University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Pottery in the Material Culture of Early Modern England: A Model from the Archaeology of Worcester, 1650-1750

Ruffle, Bob (2012) Pottery in the Material Culture of Early Modern England: A Model from the Archaeology of Worcester, 1650-1750. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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The objective of this thesis is to place the pottery used by people in 17th and 18th century Worcester into context, flowing from a desire to see the archaeological study of pottery placed within the wider study of material culture. It develops a model for doing so by addressing both a corpus of pottery drawn from a number of sites in the city and a sample of probate inventories covering the century 1650-1750. This century is of interest in local ceramic studies because it is transitional between a period in which the prime provider of pottery for the whole region was the Malvern industry, and the later period of industrial scale manufacture and distribution in Staffordshire. The thesis begins by reviewing possible theoretical approaches to the study of pottery and adopting a standpoint based on a phenomenological view of material culture as embodied experience, as opposed to the idealist representation of meaning. Since an implication of this standpoint is that the experience of past people encompassed more than the use and possession of pots, the subsequent Chapter explores the physical development of Worcester over the century under review. The next section then embarks on the consideration of 11 groups of pottery drawn from six sites in the city. Each group is considered and interpreted in turn, in its archaeological context, before the resulting data is combined to form images of the ceramic ‘repertoire’ for each of three Stages covering the century. A product of this process is the draft of a Type Series for later early modern pottery in Worcester. A sample of probate inventories taken at ten year intervals is then considered, and images of household material culture developed for three similar temporal Stages. Finally information from both the archaeological study and the analysis of inventories is combined imaginatively in ‘walking through’ three houses, one for each Stage, in order to experience, at least vicariously, the place of pottery in each.
The model thus endeavours to establish for a particular locality both the nature of the ceramic repertoire for the period under review, using a development of ‘traditional’ archaeological methodology, and the position within particular households which it appears to have occupied. This approach combines the archaeological study of pottery, often pursued in isolation, with the detailed consideration of related historical data, in a way which illuminates both and can be further refined and applied elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University’s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. A print version of this PhD thesis is held on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: early modern pottery, archaeological study of pottery, Worcester, 1650-1750
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2013 10:00
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:59

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